“Tiger Mom or Tiger Dad”-Yes or No? (What is your choice?)

“Tiger parents” is the term which has emerged recently to describe most Asian-American and Chinese parents who are very strict, high-demanding and more controlling to their children. These parents hold the view that the world is so competitive that one has to study and work very hard to outperform the others and attain success; thus they have intensive study schedule for their children and believe that any of free time should not be wasted on ‘useless’ socializing or playing. Some people argue that this theory of children upbringing is again the accepted value towards child development in western countries. However, other people stand for this model since they themselves benefit from it and claim that they would not achieve their nowadays success without this strict parenting from their “tiger parents”.

Su Yeong Kim who is an associate professor in the University of Texas conducted the research about the children upbringing, following about 300 Asian-American families for a decade (Tullis, 2013). When Kim began her research there was no conception about “tiger parents” until she read the book by Amy Chua Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother which describes an Asian-American Yale professor mother’s successful story of raising “whizzes” (Tullis, 2013, para.2). This book indeed has triggered substantial attention to this upbringing theory which contradicts the traditional western one. Chua (as cited in Tullis, 2013) points out that “these Asian parents are tough and demanding, but they consistently produce whizzes.” (para.3).   After reading the book of Chua, Kim published her results which counters the theory of “tiger parents” as she found that “children of these parents had lower academic achievement and greater psychological maladjustment” (Tullis, 2013).

However, Liu (2013) argues that this current negative description of the ‘tiger parents’ is not fair. She emphasizes that her parents were very strict and demanding, but this was not due to “parental rejection of their worth as individuals”, but rather “ultimate belief in my self-worth” (para.4). Liu (2013) describes that she had a tough and hard time that she had to achieve high scores not only in school subjects but also in extra-classes; she felt frustrated and wanted to quit, but her mother pushed her to overcome all challenges. These experiences taught her that “failure is not a permanent state, but merely a temporary challenge that had to be tackled creatively” (para.6).  Liu (2013) claims that she knows many “tiger cubs” that have attained career or family success and are making their efforts to the community development (para.9).

As a mom of two boys, I personally favor the “authoritative parenting” which means that parents always pay attention to the feelings, behaviors, academic and non-academic achievements as well as failures but not act as “authoritarian” who controls everything, rather show respect to their children as independent individuals and accompany them sometimes as friend, sometimes as mentor, sometimes just as parent. This is my choice, so what about yours?


Liu, G. (2013, May 17). Why tiger moms are great. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/17/opinion/liu-tiger-parents/

Tullis, P. (2013, May 13). Poor little tiger cub. Retrieved from:



3 thoughts on ““Tiger Mom or Tiger Dad”-Yes or No? (What is your choice?)

  1. Thank you for the engaging post,

    This approach to the upbringing of children is very interesting and poses various interesting questions. To me, the description of this approach given here sounds like the main focus is usually the future economic success of the children. But how do you think – does this way of thinking alienate the children who strive to become musicians, artists, or other professions which are usually seen as non-profitable by the parents, and are rarely supported even in the Western-style upbringing?
    It is also almost impossible to measure, but I wonder, the children from which style of upbringing are happier in the long run, not in terms of success, but in terms of satisfation with their life.


    1. Thanks for your thought-provokng questions! For the first quesion, I would like to agree with you that the focus of ‘tiger’ upbringing style inclines to be more utilitarian and overlook the uniqueness as well as distinction of each child. Many parents cast their ‘fear’ onto their children as they perceive the world to be ‘too competitive’ or ‘cruel’ to survive; they did that in the name of ‘love’.
      For the second question, I want to refer to the philosphy of children upbringing of my friend. For the life-long happiness of children, the basic prerequisite is to accept them as who they are; to respect them as individuals and to understand them spiritually. Thus, it is suggested that mindful parenting is one of the approaches for parents to reflect their behaviors or words from the subconscious level in order to jettison the ‘negative thoughts’ which may have serious impact in their children for their whole life.


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